At any given time during a mountain bike ride, disaster can strike. This unpredictability probably makes riding our electric bikes deep into the wildness so exhilarating. Typically, a rider can make a quick repair or dust themselves off and be on their way, but sometimes not.
At these times, a rider will start adding up their “trail karma points,” hoping they have done enough good deeds to receive a stroke of luck. So, how can a rider accumulate more trail karma points?
Good Deeds For Riders To Accumulate Karma
Certain best practices are necessary for riders to stay safe and keep trails enjoyable and secure for their fellow users. Follow our list of good deeds below, and you’ll quickly find out what comes around goes around.
1. Stop And Help A Rider In Need
Try to be more aware of other riders during your next trail ride. It’s common for riders to stop and take a break, but sometimes a rider stopped on the side of the trail may need assistance. If you see a rider fumbling through their hydration pack or working on their bike, simply ask if they have everything they need. Most riders are self-sufficient and will tell you they’re fine, but sometimes they may need to borrow a tool, a pump, or a tube.
Crashes happen: Riders who stop to help a rider who has crashed will quickly gain trail karma points, but riders who bunnyhop over that crashed rider in hopes of earning a KOM will likely be struck with bad trail karma later during their ride.
2. Help A Rider Who Has Crashed
Mountain e-bikes offer a wide range of benefits, but unfortunately, the occasional crash is part and parcel of the pastime. Ask any mountain biker; they will be happy to share a crash story and possibly show a scar to back it up. If you’re riding a trail and spot a rider who has crashed, get off your bike, and make sure they’re okay. Call 911, or ride to the nearest ranger station if you don’t have cell service. If a group of riders rolls up on a crash, at least one person should stay with the injured rider while the others hike up the trail to warn oncoming traffic.
3. Clear Trail Obstacles
Stormy weather can wreak havoc on local trails. A single-track trail is not uncommon to be blocked by tree branches, rocks, or other objects. Some riders carry e-bike accessories like multi-tools and small collapsible handsaws that can clear fallen tree branches after a storm. A rider willing to do a little work instead of just climbing over the obstacle should receive double trail karma points.
4. Ride With Some Cash
It’s a good idea to carry some cash if you wind up being the rider needing help. If a rider lends you a CO2 cartridge or a tube or lets you borrow his multi-tool for a quick adjustment, offer to pay them a few bucks. Most riders will probably turn you down, but offering to pay a rider for assistance shows you appreciate their effort.
5. Warn Trail Users About Wildlife
Depending on where you ride, you may find many different types of creatures and animals on the trail. We’ve seen rattlesnakes, grizzly bears, and many other living things you wouldn’t want to stumble upon alone. If you see wildlife, keeping your distance is best since you’re walking into their territory and not the other way around. Also, warn other trail users, such as hikers, riders, and equestrians, that a potentially dangerous creature has been spotted on the trails.
6. Create A Community Toolbox
We’ve enjoyed riding some really cool trails with a community toolbox at various locations. So a rider looking to gain some serious trail karma points should look into creating a community toolbox. The boxes we have seen are filled with essentials like tools, tubes, CO2 cartridges, and more attached to cables so they can’t be taken away.
7. Hand Signals
In off-road motorsports, it’s common courtesy to tell opposing traffic how many people are in your group through hand signals. As e-bike enthusiasts, we don’t have loud motors, so it may be easier to just shout out how many people are behind you, but hand signals can still be useful. Simply hold up a finger for each rider behind you using one hand. If more than five riders are behind you, it may be better to just yell it out. Making other trail riders aware of your group’s size can make the trails safer.
8. Smile And Greet All Trail Users
This one is so simple we’re shocked we even need to say it. Mountain bikers are usually very friendly to one another and other trail users; however, we sometimes run into that Strava guy or wanna-be downhill pro who feels the need to bomb ahead at full speed without acknowledging our presence. We hope these riders in a hurry take the time to read this tip and rack up some good trail karma points by slowing down a bit to say hello.
Trail day: It’s a very rewarding feeling riding a trail you helped build or maintain. Next time you get the opportunity, we highly recommend volunteering to help your local trail crew. Check out mwba.org
9. Trail Work
Volunteering for a trail work day is an excellent way to gain trail karma points. Not only will you be giving back to the trails you ride, but you’ll also find the trails much more enjoyable, knowing you helped build that berm you just blasted through or that jump you just rocketed off.
10. Descend With Caution
There is a time to go fast and a time to be cautious. A day on the trails, especially on the weekend, is the time to descend cautiously. Be courteous to other trail users and slow down for blind corners or narrow sections of the trail. If you need speed, sign up for a race or take it to a local bike park.